In Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, the Judge has reduced the verdict from $1.92 million to $54,000.
The Judge did not reach the constitutional due process issue raised by Ms. Thomas-Rasset's counsel, instead deciding the motion based upon standard principles of "remittitur". The judge described the standard for remittitur as follows:
so grossly excessive as to shock the conscience of the court. A verdict is not considered excessive unless there is plain injustice or a monstrous or shocking result
In discussing the factors upon which his decision rested, Judge Davis indicated that he had found that Ms. Thomas-Rasset lied under oath.
Judge Davis also indicated that he found even the reduced amount to be "harsh" and that, were he -- rather than a jury -- deciding the appropriate measure of damages, the award might well have been even lower than $54,000. But he felt that since the jury had determined the damages, it was his province to determine only the maximum amount a jury could reasonably award.
The RIAA has 7 days to decide whether to accept the reduced verdict, or to request a new trial.
Decision granting remittitur
Commentary & discussion:
Digital Music News
[Ed. note. The decision is a thoughtful one, and vindicates the principle that statutory damages under the Copyright Act must be reasonably proportioned to the actual damages. But this verdict is still 6428 times the actual damages, and therefore continues to be excessive. I do not feel the Court had an option of avoiding the constitutional question, since even the $750 minimum statutory damages is ~2200 times the actual damages flowing from an unauthorized download of an mp3 file. -R.B.]
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